Pickpockets: Paranoia Pays Off

“The pickpocket is usually very well dressed and of prepossessing appearance,” so says world-famous magician Harry Houdini. He should know! When I was visiting Italy, my group and I received the most bizarre, half serious, half joking warning about pickpockets. “Guys, be careful. Especially about your wallets and passports,” said one leader. “If your sole job was to pickpocket, imagine how good you’d get at it,” said another. “You’d master the art,” said one of my peers. I couldn’t help but remind myself that there are people who need to do this to get by. Nonetheless, we mustn’t fall prey to it if we could help it. We were pretty lax about our belongings in Naples, but the second we got to Rome, people began wearing their backpacks on their fronts. “It’s a front pack”, I said, wincing at my own terrible joke. “A baby bump,” one of my peers joked back. My approach was taking my passport, wallet, and phone, and putting them in a single pouch, buried at the bottom of my backpack. Looking back, I’m lucky that pouch didn’t get taken. But all of it was easy to find and check up on throughout the day. At the Colosseum, I saw an arm reaching in front of me to grab my friend’s water bottle. “Oh no!” I remember saying. I turned around to see one of the boys on our trip chuckling. I couldn’t help but laugh. Come to think of it, if I was a pickpocket and had brought home a lowly water bottle, I wouldn’t be too proud. By the end of the Rome stay, we had ended up pickpocketing each other, for fun, more than any pickpocketer could dream of doing. By the way – I never got pickpocketed, and neither did any of my peers. I thank my front pack. Paranoia pays off.